The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) yesterday denied claims that it paid $2 million (N320 million) to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) to secure the release of two American sailors kidnapped off Brass, Bayelsa State on 23rd October, 2013.
Deputy Director Public Relations of NIMASA, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi described the claim by MEND as false.
“NIMASA as an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria did not and will not pay ransom to secure the release of anyone. We will never support criminality,” Osamgbi told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.
In an emailed statement on Sunday, MEND claimed that the Americans kidnapped from the Edison Chouest-owned supply vessel, C-Retriever, were released last week after an alleged $2 million cash ransom had been paid.
This appears to be the first time that specific details of a ransom payment have been made public as the result of a kidnapping incident off Nigeria, although considering this information was sent by MEND; it could be a complete fabrication.
MEND noted that the hostage situation “ended on a happy note” even as it claimed to have in some way influenced the positive outcome. Furthermore, the organisation claimed that the ransom payment was allegedly paid in large part from the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Administration Agency (NIMASA).
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